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History / Bayleaf / The Gentry Manor of Bore Place

Bore Place, Chiddingstone, Kent

All land in the Kent Weald, like elsewhere in England, was held of some lordship or directly of the Crown. However, seigneurial control was weak and tenants’ involvement with their manor was limited to paying a small annual quitrent or ground rent, doing (occasional) suit of court and paying a heriot (usually the best beast) for the right to take up land on the death of the previous tenant. A feature of the late 15th and 16th centuries was the appearance of what are described as ‘gentry manors’ or estates in all parts of the Weald, the result of either successful estate building by local residents or of purchase by newcomers to the Weald. These estates frequently included land held of more than one manor. An example of this was the Bore Place ‘manor’, or estate, with lands in at least three different manors. The owners of Bore Place, like most other landowners in the Weald during this period, managed their property by leasing out large blocks of it and rents would have formed an important part of their income. Unlike some landowners, however,  they retained demesne lands, which in 1518 included approximately 50 acres of arable and 150 acres of pasture, together with meadows, woods and parkland.

From the late 15th century and throughout the 16th century Bore Place was held by a succession of eminent London lawyers, all of whom continued to maintain London residences. John Alphegh held the estate until his death in 1489. He left it to his daughter, Margaret, and her husband, Robert, later Sir Robert, Rede. On Rede’s death in 1518 the estate passed to his daughter, Bridget, and her husband, Thomas, later Sir Thomas, Willoughby. Bridget continued to hold the estate after her husband’s death in 1545 and on her own death in 1558 it passed to her grandson, Thomas Willoughby.

Note: Commonwork Land Trust located at Bore Place is a study centre, and organic farm, working towards sustainable solutions in farming, the environment and education.